ECommerce is a very dynamic industry and internal processes and methodologies have to constantly be adapted to meet organizational needs. Most sites need to be launched as quickly as possible to capitalize on ROI, thus requiring efficient and effective means to scope, develop and launch.

Due to the pressure of launching a site within a specified timeframe or budget, most leading the projects have to resort to taking short cuts. Consequently, this leads to many bugs and integration interruptions. Often sites have to be redesigned and the pressures of stabilizing the sites for peak season (i.e. Black Friday) can lead to last minute major development work.

Whether you’re considering launching a new eCommerce website or migrating your existing one, here are a few points to consider to avoid the situation mentioned above.

Lack of dedicated project team with the necessary clarity of their roles

Solution:
Pick your strongest resources and place them full time on the project. Define their roles and ensure that they are removed from other projects or operational duties. Often, many of these resources will have to learn a brand new platform, therefore dedicating 100% of their capacity will be a long term investment for your organization. A focused and dedicated employee will always deliver quality work.

Unrealistic Timelines/Deadlines and Budget

Solution:
Prior to dedicating any resources, have your eCommerce business analyst and/or product owner scope out your optimal website functionalities. Based on your list, hold a high-level discovery session with your system integration partner and outline your realistic timeline and budget. Do take into consideration the budget for development, quality assurance, regression testing and bug resolution. Once you identify the cost per functionality, assign priority to each of the functionality, which will aid in pushing off some features to phase 2 (post-launch enhancement list). This will lead to less corner cutting and future site re-designs or integration work.

Misalignment of Cross-functional Teams and Lack of Collaboration

Solution:
Prior to kicking off your project, ensure that all of the implicated departments are aware of the project timeline, project scope, and their deliverables. Meet with IT, Marketing, Warehousing, ECommerce and Operations to agree on a timeline and deliverables – avoid silo behavior! Potential risks should be outlined beforehand, as well as assigning a strong digital project manager who can aid your cross-functional teams in dealing with roadblocks, project tracking and documentation.

Lack of Data to Make Informed Decisions

Solution:
Often retailers resort to out of the box implementations and/or copy their competitors (i.e. Let’s do what Amazon is doing). A preferred method would be to collect data from your current site (Google Analytics) along with feedback from customers, to avoid a misalignment with customer expectations in the future. While maintaining the code integrity of your platform (out of the box solution), customize the key functionalities that would present you with the highest ROI. R&D prior to launching a site can play a critical role in its success.

Not Choosing the Right System Integrator (SI) for your Project

Solution:
Choose a partner based on their industry experience as well operational support. Most partners can get your site launched within 4 to 6 months, but many of them have little to no experience managing the site thereafter. For example, they may suggest customizing a third party integration without fully understanding the impact on a particular flow or department. Many payment integrations can also go wrong because finance teams were never implicated. As much as possible, choose a SI that will guide you to proper cross-departmental scoping of a project and one that has the best fit with your business needs and reality.


Of course, the number of pitfalls related to any eCommerce project can vary, but hopefully this short list has given you some points to consider. The most intense and heaviest portion of an ecomm project is always the beginning phase leading up to development. Setting the foundation and the expectations for your team can either make or break your project. Think about the long term implications as opposed to short term gratification and most of all, don’t lose sight of the end goal.

At Incloud, we not only have the ability to implement a site rapidly, but the experience to launch solid sites with minimal regression bugs. Business continuity and customer satisfaction is our #1 priority.

Hope this article has given you some food for thought when embarking on such an awesome project. Feel free to leave any comments or feedback below, or connect with me on LinkedIn.